In Cold Blood

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Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok Character Analysis

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Hickok. Murdered the Clutter family with the aid of Perry Smith. The son of modest farmers, Dick was a high school sports star who couldn’t afford to go to college; his unrealized dreams may have turned him to a life of crime. Dick has been married twice and has three sons from his first marriage. His pedophilic tendencies lead him to prey on pubescent girls. An automobile accident has disfigured his face and has left him prone to fainting spells and headaches.

Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok Quotes in In Cold Blood

The In Cold Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok or refer to Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of In Cold Blood published in 1994.
Part 1 Quotes

At the time, not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them – four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok, Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

In Cold Blood opens by describing a serene and pastoral town in which salt-of-the-earth Kansans raise families and livestock in a religious and warm community. Capote sets up this image of paradise only to dash it with the description of the shotgun blasts. In a way, this opening mirrors the experience of reading the whole book; Capote repeatedly presents readers with idyllic scenes of American life and traditionally successful characters only to tell us afterwards that everything is darker and more complicated than it initially appears.

This quotation also sets in motion the unspooling of the plot. By revealing that four shotgun blasts ended six lives, Capote tells readers from the start that the two killers are doomed as well. This foreshadowing (or prolepsis, as it would be more accurately described) makes the dreams and aspirations that the two killers express throughout the remainder of the book seem hopeless and even tragic. In this way, Capote has primed the readers for one of the major themes of the book: that the American dream seems always out of reach. 

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A cinch…I promise you, honey, we’ll blast hair all over them walls.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

This is a crucial passage, as it establishes for certain that Dick and Perry's plan is not only robbery, but also murder. In other words, these two men are committing the premeditated murder of a family they have never met--this is murder "in cold blood," which gives the title to Capote's book. This passage is even more chilling for the casual and even celebratory way that Dick talks about the planned murder, which raises the question of evil. While Perry is presented as a sympathetic and conflicted character, Dick seems here to entirely lack a conscience. 

It is also worth noting the language that Dick uses to address Perry. In Cold Blood devotes itself to exploring ideas of masculinity and all kinds of male bonds, from conspiratorial to aspirational to intimate. Certainly, Dick's using the word "honey" points to an unusual intimacy between the two men. The term also feminizes Perry, a theme that continues throughout the book. 

Part 2 Quotes

No fooling Dick…This is authentic. I’ve got a map. I’ve got the whole history. It was buried there back in 1821 – Peruvian bullion, jewelry. Sixty million dollars – that’s what they say it’s worth. Even if we didn’t find all of it, even if we only found some of it – Are you with me, Dick?

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith (speaker), Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

While Perry's discussion of inescapable fate makes readers feel, to some extent, that Perry understands his own doom, he is still prone to flights of fancy about the life he and Dick could have in Mexico. Here, after a day of writing hot checks, Perry is explaining to a skeptical Dick how they will make money once they leave the country. His explanation sounds delusional at best--his plans include treasure maps, fishing boats, and diving for sunken treasure. It is through the contrast between passages like this (that show the scale and intensity of Perry's longing) and the brutality of the Clutter murders that Capote critiques the American dream. Not only does the dream inspire rabid dissatisfaction and grandiose hopes, but it makes it possible to commit acts of extreme violence in the name of aspiration. Clearly, Perry just wants to have a nice life for himself, but he doesn't seem to recognize that, in the pursuit of this, he has taken four lives from others. 

Now, what kind of person would do that – tie up two women…and then draw up the bedcovers, tuck them in, like sweet dreams and good night?

Related Characters: Alvin Dewey (speaker), Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Alvin contemplates the specifics of the murder scene, saying that he is most tantalized by the trouble that the killers went to to make sure the Clutters were comfortable. Alvin seems unable to understand how a cold-blooded murderer could be in the process of killing and simultaneously beholden to the impulses towards kindness that would make him tuck Nancy and Bonnie in, or put a pillow under Kenyon's head. With this passage, Capote continues to explore the complex nature of evil. Evil, Capote seems to say, is not monolithic--an almost scarier proposition than the idea of somebody being purely evil, since it makes us ask to what extent one has to follow evil impulses to do evil, and, conversely, how much kindness is required to save us from evil.

In these considerations, the passage also makes a commentary on our perceptions about what is normal. It seems that Alvin does not believe that these impulses towards kindness are "normal" behavior for a killer, though kindness would be "normal" behavior for the middle-class Christians in his community. Alvin's inability to categorize "normal" and "abnormal" people is, he seems to say, more difficult to process than the fact of the murders itself.

Deal me out, baby. I’m a normal.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker), Perry Edward Smith
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote comes in an exchange between Perry and Dick in which Perry raises the possibility that there is something wrong with the two of them, since they were able and willing to kill the Clutters. Dick responds confidently that he is normal, though Capote reveals that Dick is strongly convinced that Perry is not. Dick cites Perry's childishness, his stormy emotions, and his obsession with treasure hunting as examples that Perry is not "normal," but Dick's relentless defining of normalcy also reveals to us Dick's own preoccupation with being normal himself. Normalcy is a virtue that Dick seems to cherish and one that he believes (with pride) that he has, despite Perry's very good evidence to the contrary. In a sense, Dick's quest for normalcy is his version of Perry's treasure hunting dream--both are aspirations that guide their actions, and both are delusional in that, because of who these men are and the circumstances they're in, neither one of them can ever achieve their dream.

Part 3 Quotes

Dick was sick of [Perry] – his harmonica, his aches and ills, his superstitions, the weepy, womanly eyes, the nagging, whispering voice. Suspicious, self-righteous, spiteful, he was like a wife that must be got rid of.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

Just before their arrest in Las Vegas, Dick reveals that he has tired of Perry and that he plans to ditch him without saying goodbye. Significantly, Perry's characteristics that most grate on Dick are the ones that Dick sees as being most abnormal--it's worth noting, too, that to Dick, the most abnormal thing a man can be is feminine. So Dick, in his relentless protection of his own normalcy, wants to get rid of Perry. While Capote has brought attention throughout the book to Perry's femininity, this passage is significant because Dick has never before been so disgusted with Perry and, correspondingly, has never described Perry in such concertedly feminine terms. He brings attention to Perry's womanly eyes, his feminine voice, and his nagging, before explicitly comparing Perry to a wife. In prior passages, Dick has seemed to enjoy aspects of feminizing Perry--in a traditionally masculine way, Dick is the leader of the two of them, and he calls Perry pet names like "honey" and "baby." However, as their relationship splinters, Dick uses Perry's femininity as a scapegoat for the deeper problems of trust and cruelty that plague their relationship. 

Perry Smith killed the Clutters…. It was Perry. I couldn’t stop him. He killed them all.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker), Perry Edward Smith, Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the book, Dick is portrayed as the more cold-blooded of the two killers due to his lack of remorse and kindness. When presented with an evidence photograph of a bloody footprint and told of all the murder charges he is facing, Dick does not keep to his word that he and Perry will tell the same story to police interrogators, and instead he blames the killings on Perry. This further cements the reader's negative opinion of Dick, as he is essentially attempting to sacrifice his friend, who he dragged into the killings in the first place, in order to spare his own future. While Perry represents a nuanced and even banal vision of evil (he commits an evil act because Dick tells him to, and feels some remorse after), Dick is a much more polar version of evil. Dick is shown as cruel, manipulative, and lacking empathy in a way that almost points to psychological pathology. 

Part 4 Quotes

Well, what’s there to say about capital punishment? I’m not against it. Revenge is all it is, but what’s wrong with revenge? …I believe in hanging. Just so long as I’m not the one being hanged.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker)
Related Symbols: Death Row
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:

Dick has also unraveled psychologically, as he seems to believe that he is actually innocent of the murders. He has also, by this point, spent a lot of time learning the law to try to contest his fate. This behavior, along with the quote at hand, shows that Dick's brand of evil, unlike Perry's, is entirely self-interested and manipulative, to a potentially pathological extent. Perry is interested in finding a consistent moral logic that explains his behavior and the behavior of those around him (i.e. that he is guilty of murder in the same way that the state is guilty of murder in war and through capital punishment), which shows that Perry still sees himself as embedded in a society that is operating together by, largely, the same rules. Dick, though, has no such interest--he is only concerned with himself, even to the extent that he is willing to assert something so bizarre and contradictory as his support for the death penalty on the grounds that nothing is wrong with revenge, unless it is he who is being hanged. 

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Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok Character Timeline in In Cold Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok appears in In Cold Blood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: The Last to See Them Alive
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...with letters, souvenirs, and books. He’s waiting at the café for his partner in crime, Dick Hickock, to arrive, so they can discuss the plans for a robbery (a “score”). Perry... (full context)
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Perry gets into Dick’s car – a black 1949 Chevrolet. Dick is still wearing his blue mechanic’s jumpsuit. He... (full context)
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They drive to Dick’s place of work, Bob Sands’ Body Shop, and tune up the Chevy. Dick reveals that... (full context)
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Having finished tuning up the Chevy, Dick and Perry spend the next hour “sprucing up” in the body shop’s bathroom. Both men... (full context)
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Dick and Perry reach the large town of Emporia, Kansas in order to pick up supplies... (full context)
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Dick and Perry, still on the hunt for black pantyhose, are parked outside of a Catholic... (full context)
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Dick and Perry drive through the night. Perry gazes out at the flat landscape and reflects... (full context)
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Dick and Perry have a veritable feast at a diner in Great Bend. They take off... (full context)
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While in the car, Dick worries that Perry has changed his mind about the “score” – something Dick hadn’t expected.... (full context)
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...Kansas. His boots are soaking in the washbasin; the water is tinted with blood. Nearby, Dick, famished, is wolfing down Sunday dinner with his family. Instead of joining his family in... (full context)
Part 2: Persons Unknown
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Perry and Dick sit in a café in Kansas City. Perry obsessively reads a front-page article in the... (full context)
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Dick questions Perry’s premonitions. Perry shrugs. “[O]nce a thing is set up to happen, all you... (full context)
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Kansas City. Perry and Dick have been busy – Dick has been writing bad checks all over Kansas City, under... (full context)
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After a day of pawning, Dick and Perry have made quite a bit of money. Perry is excited – finally, his... (full context)
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Having loaded the Chevy with stolen goods and all of Perry’s worldly belongings, Perry and Dick cross into Oklahoma. Perry is relieved, but Dick is uneasy – in escaping to Mexico,... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are having a roadside picnic in Mexico. Perry speculates that there must be... (full context)
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...killing the black man – he’d only said he’d done it in order to impress Dick. Perry is shaken from his thoughts when Dick gleefully swerves to hit a dog. (full context)
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Dick and Perry are aboard a small boat off the coast of Acapulco. A young Mexican... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are in a motel room in Mexico City. Perry has come to realize... (full context)
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...this time, it’s nearly 1:00 – one hour before checkout. He checks to see if Dick is awake. He is – he’s having sex with a teenage prostitute. Perry tells Dick... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are hitchhiking in the Mojave Desert. Their plan is to get picked up... (full context)
Part 3: Answer
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...a lawn care business), learns of the Clutter murder. He had shared a cell with Dick that summer, and had mentioned to him that the Clutter family was well off. Dick... (full context)
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Dick’s family’s house. Mr. and Mrs. Hickok are speaking to the KBI. Dick’s father tells Agent... (full context)
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Dick and Perry hitch a ride with a traveling businessman. Dick chats up the businessman, all... (full context)
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Iowa. Dick and Perry seek shelter from a rainstorm in a barn. They’re headed for Kansas City,... (full context)
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Kansas City. Perry is at the Washateria, doing laundry and waiting for Dick to return. He feels sick with worry. He spies a woman’s purse and briefly considers... (full context)
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Alvin, in the midst of a dream about catching Dick and Perry, is awakened by a call from Agent Nye. Dick and Perry have been... (full context)
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Christmas Day. Dick and Perry are on the beach in Miami, Florida, where they’ve been for several days.... (full context)
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Perry – aware of his friend’s pedophilia - is concerned that Dick will try to rape the girl, and he is relieved when the child slips away... (full context)
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Dick and Perry pick up a couple hitchhikers – an old man and a young boy.... (full context)
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December 30th. The Dewey household. Alvin gets a call notifying him that Dick and Perry have been arrested in Las Vegas. Alvin is at first delighted and then... (full context)
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Earlier that day, Dick and Perry arrive at the post office in Las Vegas to pick up a box... (full context)
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Dick is interrogated at the Las Vegas City Jail. Agent Nye is surprised by how skinny... (full context)
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Perry and Dick are jailed in separate cells, and they ruminate about their respective interrogations. Perry longs to... (full context)
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Perry and Dick are interrogated a second time. Perry sticks to the alibi. Dick, on the other hand,... (full context)
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Holcomb is abuzz with gossip and speculation following the news report on Dick’s confession. Many of the townspeople are puzzled that the killer wasn’t one of their own,... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are being driven back to Garden City in a police caravan. Perry sits... (full context)
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Once in Garden City, the agents turn Perry against Dick, and Perry fills the investigators in on details of the murder. Perry recounts how frustrated... (full context)
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...comfortable after he’d tied them up. He describes how he had to guard Nancy from Dick, who wished to rape her. Perry reveals that, for a split-second after the murders, he’d... (full context)
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...grilles of automobiles. Nearby, a large crowd has gathered outside of the courthouse to see Dick and Perry get escorted to jail. The crowd falls silent when they finally arrive, “as... (full context)
Part 4: The Corner
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...change his sworn statement – he wants to claim full responsibility for the murders, so Dick’s family won’t suffer. Meanwhile, the county attorney swears that he will pursue the death penalty... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Dick schemes away in his cell in the main jail. He has plans to make a... (full context)
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...his life has been a lot like theirs. He learns secondhand that the sheriff discovered Dick’s shiv, which leads him to reflect on his own plans of escape. He has a... (full context)
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...is decided that the trial will be held in Garden City, given that sentiment toward Dick and Perry is essentially uniform throughout the state. Additionally, many of Garden City’s Christian leaders... (full context)
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A jury is selected, and during that time Dick and Perry write autobiographical statements for Dr. Jones, the defense’s psychiatrist. Perry’s statement details a... (full context)
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...that the murders were premeditated. Before the court recesses for the weekend, Alvin testifies that Dick had planned on raping Nancy and that Perry had prevented him from doing so. He... (full context)
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...but isn’t allowed to speak, other than to state whether he has an opinion whether Dick and Perry knew right from wrong at the time of the murders. Dr. Jones states... (full context)
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...arguments. He argues that the Bible is in favor of the death penalty, and that Dick and Perry are so dangerous that anything short of the death penalty would effectively give... (full context)
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The next day, Dick and Perry are sent back to Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, where they’re put on... (full context)
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Dick and Perry survive their first execution date, given that their case is in appeals court.... (full context)
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Two years go by. Dick takes to studying law books, with the aim of reversing his conviction. (“I’m no goddamn... (full context)
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One of Dick’s letters gains some traction with the Chairman of the Legal Aid Committee of the Kansas... (full context)
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In the meantime, Andrews is executed. Dick and Perry watch the proceedings from their cells in Death Row – they can see... (full context)
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Dick then goes on to assert his innocence – he’s convinced, at this point, that he... (full context)
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Three years pass, and Dick and Perry manage to slip by three more execution dates. Finally, their final appeal fails,... (full context)